24/11/1915 Ctesiphon: the Turks force a British withdrawal

In Mesopotamia brutal fighting continues at Ctesiphon, near the town of Salman Pak. The Turks under Colonel Nurredin are making a stand, determined to prevent the British taking Baghdad. The British have managed to overrun the Turkish first line of defences but have suffered ruinous casualties in doing so. They are unable to dislodge the Turks from their second line and are being roughly treated by Turkish counterattacks.

The casualty levels suffered by both sides are horrific, with great loss of life and both sets of medical corps being completely overwhelmed by the numbers of wounded. In numerical terms the Turks have suffered more, but they are able to bring up reinforcements from Baghdad. The British have no reserves to hand and their commander, General Townshend, knows that there are no reinforcements for him in Mesopotamia: it will be at least January before fresh troops arrive in the region.

Knowing that he cannot break through the Turks at Ctesiphon and fearing that his army will be destroyed if the battle continues, Townshend decides to retreat. His army will make a fighting withdrawal to Kut al-Amara. Behind that city’s defences they will hunker down and await reinforcements.

Ctesiphon is a triumph for the Turks, albeit one gained at terrible cost in human lives. They have shown that they can defeat a British army in the field and they have done so without the presence of German advisors. Now Nurredin prepares to pursue the British, hoping to complete the annihilation of the enemy force.

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